The Attempts Made Essay, Research Paper
The Attempts Made
Death of a Salesman, by Arthur Miller, is a play depicting one man, Willy
Loman, in his attempt to achieve the American Dream while living amongst his
wife and children. Throughout the play the reader is introduced to many
characters, some who are dynamic and some who are static. In any good literal
work there is a balance of both of these types of characters, and Death of a
Salesman is no exception that Willy Loman, his wife Linda, and their two
children, Biff and Happy, create these characteristics.
Willy Loman is focused on his primary goal to achieve the American
Dream through hard work. At the beginning of the play Willy had declined to
travel with his brother, he insisted that he would achieve his dream. Four years
later his brother stumbles upon a diamond mine and is instantly rich. Willy runs in
to some tough times, and is constantly asking his friend Charlie for money.
Charlie has offered Willy jobs on several occasions, and Willy constantly refuses.:
CHARLEY. I offered you a job. You can make fifty dollars
a week. And I won?t send you on the road.
WILLY. I?ve got a job.
CHARLEY. Without pay? What kind of a job is a job
without pay? Why don?t you want to work for me?
WILLY. What?s the matter with you? I?ve got a job.
CHARLEY. I am offering you a job.
WILLY. I don?t want your goddamn job. (1683)
Willy is still determined to achieve his dream in his own way, as a salesman. He
refuses to earn it any other way. Even in death he endeavored to achieve his
dream by dying the death of a salesman.
Biff Loman is a dynamic character, because unlike Willy he eventually
realizes the unfairness of society. In the beginning of the play Biff is much like
his father, living in the world of, ?if you work hard you?ll achieve the American
Dream.? Biff is supporting his father in his dream world. Eventually Biff runs
into some difficult times; he can?t hold down a job, and he no longer trusts his
father. On the day following the sporting goods store incident, he realizes the
flaws in his father?s dream. That day he fails to get the loan, the man, Oliver, who
had loved Biff did not even recognize him. The following day Biff cursed Willy
for being a fool and a dreamer. He states,
?You?re going to hear the truth-what you are and what I am! Pop
I?m a dime a dozen, and so are you! I am not a leader of men, Willy,
and neither are you. You were never anything but a hard-working
drummer who landed in the ash can like all the rest of them! Willy
you take that phony dream and burn it before something happens??
Biff is upset with his father for being so arrogant and unrealistic. He wants
Willy to realize that they are not leaders or rich men and to understand that is
okay. Biff had it with Willy filling him up with hot air. By the end of the play
Biff had gained this understanding, and in this aspect had changed. He matured to
realize the faults of his ways.
Happy Loman was also a dynamic character. At the beginning he was less
renowned than Biff, he usually was in Biff?s shadow. He was constantly trying to
get attention from his father. He once states, ?I?m losing weight, you notice,
Pop?? (1647) He does everything he can to get acknowledgement from his
parents but it usually fails.
HAPPY. I?m gonna get married, Mom. I wanted to tell
LINDA. Go to sleep, dear. (1668)
But, throughout the play it is Happy that is successful, more popular, and it is he
who has all the women; there is not a woman in the world he could not have.
Linda Loman was the most perfect example of the static character. It
seemed as if her primary purpose in the play was to support Willy. She is
constantly making excuses for him.
WILLY. I suddenly couldn?t drive any more. The car kept going
off onto the shoulder, y?know?
LINDA. Oh. Maybe it was the steering again. I don?t think Angelo
knows the Studebaker.
WILLY. No, it?s me, it?s me. Suddenly I realize I?m goin? sixty
miles an hour and I don?t remember the last five minutes. I?m-
I can?t seem to-keep my mind on it.
LINDA. Maybe it?s your glasses. You never went for your new
She doesn?t want him to blame himself for anything, she continuously strives to
put him on a pedestal. Even when he is blaming himself, she tries to redirect the
blame. This is consistent in her character throughout the play.
The characters in the Loman family are evenly balanced in the aspect of
their static and dynamic characteristics. Willy and Linda are static; Willy does not
deter from his American Dream rationale, and Linda does not stop putting him on
a pedestal. Happy and Biff are the dynamic characters; Happy becomes the more
successful and more well-liked, while Biff becomes the spitting image of his
father, eventually realizing his father?s faults. Arthur Miller does a wonderful job
of keeping a balance between static and dynamic characters within Death Of A
Miller, Arthur. Death of a Salesman. Literature: An Introduction to
Fiction, Poetry, and Drama. Ed. X.J. Kennedy and Dana Giola. 7th ed.
New York: Longham, 1999. 1636 – 1701.